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Leaving hate behind – Neo-Nazis, Significant Others and disengagement

Conference contribution
Authors Christer Mattsson
Thomas Johansson
Published in 14th Conference of the European Sociological Association
Publication year 2019
Published at Segerstedt Institute
Language en
Subject categories Pedagogy, Social Psychology, Sociology


The purpose of the study is to contribute to the oral history of disengagement processes of former neo-Nazis. Our main aim is to take a holistic approach to the stories. This means that we intend to situate the narratives in relation to significant others – such as teachers, parents, and others – in order to contextualize the individual stories. Although there are ample evidence for the importance of the relationship factor, most studies in this field of research have focused exclusively on the individual life stories. This one-sided focus tends to contribute to the construction of a highly individualized narrative of disengagement processes. Research has shown that disengagement from extremist movements often are preceded by individual’s disillusionment with the movement, but there is also a need for timing for the individual to reconnect with others outside the movement to share his or her doubts. There is, however, scarce research findings on how this process is understood and talked about among the significant others. The empirical material of the study consists of three case studies. Each case story contains a condensed narrative of the neo-Nazis own perception of push and pull factors. In addition to this, voices of significant others are added, and analyzed. The results show that disengagement can be understood as a combination of fateful moments and “interventions” by significant others. The nonjudgmental attitudes among these significant others are rooted in their lived experiences of handling individuals grievances.

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Utskriftsdatum: 2020-08-07